When Thabo Sefolosha went down with an injury late last month, Thunder coach Scott Brooks characterized the starting shooting guard spot as fluid.
Before Thursday night, it hadn’t been. Perry Jones started all six of the previous games in Sefolosha’s place.
But maybe Brooks was tired of getting burned by opposing perimeter players. Because on Thursday night, he injected some defensive energy into the opening minutes.
Andre Roberson got the starting nod, tasked with slowing Jodie Meeks, the Laker guard who torched OKC just four days before, dropping a career-high 42 points.
And the rookie did his job, helping slow Meeks and the Lakers in the Thunder’s 131-102 domination in The Peake.
Meeks finished an inefficient 6-of-15 for 19 points. The Lakers shot 39 percent overall.
“Dre came in and gave us some good energy,” Brooks said. “Made it tough on Jodie Meeks early on.”
Early on as in right from the tip.
On the opening possession, Roberson hounded Meeks out past the 3-point line with the type of pressure he’d lay on him for the rest of the night.
As Meeks held the ball, Roberson slyly swatted it from his hands. It caromed right to Russell Westbrook, who translated it into a crowd-pleasing slam on the other end.
And the rout was on.
“He happened to get lucky the first time,” Westbrook said of Meeks’ 42 points back in Los Angeles. “We’re not worried about what Jodie Meeks does.”
But Brooks seemed to at least remain aware of it. Conscious enough to make the Roberson adjustment.